The area which now comprises Memory Grove Park was set aside as a city park in 1902. The park, however, remained unimproved until the 1920s when the women of the Salt Lake chapter of the Service Star Legion asked the city to designate the park as a memorial honoring America's soldiers and spearheaded the planting of trees and placement of monuments in the park. The Service Star Legion was a national patriotic organization for women whose relatives had served in World War I.
Since the dedication of Memory Grove in 1924 many organizations and individuals have contributed monuments to the park.
The PagodaBeyond the gate to the park on the east side of the street stands a memorial known as the Pagoda. It was the first memorial built in the park. Despite its Asian name, the Pagoda is a classical structure composed of eight Doric columns which support a circular entablature. The octagonal shaft and urn in the center of the Pagoda were added in 1932. Marble used for the Pagoda came from the same Vermont quarry that provided marble for the Lincoln Monument in Washington, D.C. The Pagoda and Memory Grove entrance gates were designed by Salt Lake City architect Slack Winburn.
The Harbor of Beauty
Just to the north of the Pagoda is a pond, the Harbor of Beauty, dedicated to the memory of sailors who died in the service of their country.
Meditation ChapelMeditation Chapel was built in 1948 by Mr. and Mrs. Ross Beason as a memorial to their son and other Utah sons who died in World War II. The chapel resembles a Greek temple in form and features beautiful striated Georgian marble, a copper roof, and sculpted bronze doors. The markers on the ground surrounding the chapel contain the names of Utah servicemen whose bodies were never recovered after they died in World War II. In 1999, the Memory Grove Foundation was presented with a Utah Heritage Foundation Heritage Award for the restoration of Meditation Chapel's armed forces themed stained glass windows.
145th Field Artillery Monument
The tall gray granite shaft surrounded by a circular bench was dedicated in 1927 and erected by the 145th Field Artillery. The monument's bas relief features horse-drawn artillery of seventeen horses and six men. A sun dial was once located here also.
The stone footbridge is itself a memorial constructed by the Kiwanis Club in 1927.
Memorial House was constructed c. 1890 as a stable and equipment storage shed for contractor Patrick J. Moran. Salt Lake City acquired the park area in 1902. As it was located directly across from the city's water intake structure on City Creek, the city's water department used the building as their barn, tool shed, and blacksmith shop. In 1926, Salt Lake City leased the building to the Service Star Legion which planned to use it for veteran's activities. Prominent Salt Lake architects Hyrum Pope and Harold Burton designed a new façade for Memorial House with a Georgian flair. The brick building was covered with stucco, six rounded dormers were added to the roof, and the windows on the east wall were turned into French doors.
Today, you can see several interesting features that remain from the buildings past uses. The location of the double window above the main entry was once the double doors for the hay loft. The bulls-eye window above the doors was a hole where a derrick was used to hoist the hay into the hay loft. Stalls for horses lined each side of the long main hall when it was a stable.
Under the management of the Service Star Legion, Memorial House became a popular setting for weddings, receptions, and luncheons. In 1953, Memorial House was improved with a new heating system, a stairway to access a second floor, and the garden room addition was constructed. The patio on the east side was built in 1974. After the Legion's lease ran out in 1984, however, the building stood vacant and unused for 10 years. Seeking a new home and hoping that Memorial House could once again play an active role in the community, Utah Heritage Foundation raised funds for the renovation of the building in cooperation with Salt Lake City Corporation. In July 1994, the foundation opened the doors of Memorial House for public use. Under a lease with the city, Utah Heritage Foundation operates the first floor of the building as a meeting, event, and reception center and its offices occupy the second floor.
On August 11, 1999, the park was hit by a tornado that traveled from downtown, past the State Capitol, through Memory Grove Park and up into the Avenues neighborhood. The devastation of the event amounted to destruction of 478 mature trees. No buildings or monuments in the park were damaged but the character of the park had been changed forever. A steering committee for park planning and reconstruction was formed by Mayor Corradini and the path was laid for a new Memory Grove. Thousands of volunteers and several partners, including Salt Lake City, the Memory Grove Foundation, Utah Heritage Foundation, FEMA, the Central Utah Water Conservancy District, Salt Lake County, Tree Utah, and the Forest Service, were part of the effort.
In 2003, these partners were recognized for their outstanding work with a Utah Heritage Foundation Heritage Award for restoration.